UCLA Preview

Next up for Arizona State are the Bruins of UCLA. Second year Head Coach, Karl Dorrell, brings a 4-2 squad to Tempe that was on a four game win streak until the Cal Bears tripped his team up last Saturday, 45-28. Contrasting last year with the 2004 version, it's been a complete turnaround for UCLA. This year the Bruins have packed an offensive punch while the defense has been very porous. Last year, roles were reversed with the defense carrying the team.

The Bruins are last in total defense and rushing defense in the conference so this week's contest provides a big opportunity for the Arizona State rushing attack to get re-established. Despite UCLA's bad rush defense, the Bruins have arguably the Pac-10's best defensive player and Butkus semi-finalist, LB Spencer Havner. He's the team and conference leader with 76 tackles. Havner is an all out playmaker and one of the best linebackers you'll see in all of college football. Joining Havner at LB is Wesley Walker, who comes in with 32 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss.

Besides Havner, the Bruins don't have much else to get excited over. The most alarming defensive statistic in my eyes is how many tackles their safeties are accumulating. That tells you that the front seven aren't doing their job, sans Havner. This isn't a 4-2-5 defense where the tackles are funneled to the safeties either. The injuries and low retention on the DL have been tough for UCLA to overcome. The only bright spot on the line has been the play of true freshman, Brigham Harwell, with 13 tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss.

FS Ben Emmanuel II is active in the secondary with 46 tackles on the year. Jarrad Page, Chris Horton, and Eric McNeal all get playing time at safety and have been contributors to the Pac-10's third best pass defense. Upperclassmen corners Matt Clark and Marcus Cassell are playing well.

On offense for the Bruins, the star is RB Maurice Drew. He is an all-purpose guy much like Reggie Bush is for Southern Cal. Drew has 733 yards and 9 TDs. Seven of those TDs came by way of rushing and the other 2 receiving. Drew utilizes his 5'8" frame by hiding behind his blockers and hitting the hole hard and fast. However, the Bruin rushing attack does not stop at Maurice Drew. RB Manuel White has contributed 3 TDs, 452 yards and is averaging 75 yards per game on the ground.

Bruin QB Drew Olson leads a surging passing attack for the Bruins. Defenses have been keying in on the ground game and have forced Olson to go to the air to beat them. His best target is TE Mercedes Lewis who has 5 of UCLA's TDs. He's averaging 39 receiving yards to complement his blocking duties. UCLA's best WR, Craig Bragg, may see some action this week ad would provide a big boost to the passing game. Bragg has only played in 3 games this year but has more yards then the second option at WR and Valley product, Junior Taylor. Bragg brings a 72 yard per game average while Taylor, in twice as many games, is only averaging 21 yards per game.

Justin Medlock leads a great kicking game for the Bruins. He's perfect on the year in FGs, going 7 of 7. Medlock hasn't attempted a FG in the last two games. Punter Chris Kluwe averages 41 yards per punt. He can kick the ball long and has placed 10 of his punts inside the 20 yard line.

Just like Reggie Bush, Maurice Drew is also a special teams force. He's utilized on both kick and punt return teams. WR Craig Bragg and S Jarrad Page also share duties on punt returns. Page has been a success with 49 yards on 2 returns. Chris Markey has 159 yards and a long of 35 yards in the kick return game as well.

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